A Whimsical Garden Bench for the Front Porch & Some Landscape Updates

Welcome to the 382nd Metamorphosis Monday!

See that chart below? Yay, for sunshine! Finally, the re-varnishing of the screened porch floor can start tomorrow. It was scheduled for almost two weeks ago, but the weather has not cooperated. Finally, we have sunny days ahead.



Boxwood Shrubs for the Front Yard Landscape

While I’ve been awaiting sunny days, my focus has returned to the front yard. Remember this photo of Frances Schultz’s adorable house, Bee Cottage? I had a landscape plan done a few years back for the front yard shrubs, but after I saw the elegant simplicity of Frances’s front landscape, I’ve decided to focus mainly on using boxwood shrubs for the front of my home. This is sort of the look I’m going for, shrub wise. (Take a tour of Bee Cottage in this post: Bee Cottage)

Normally I like to let bushes and trees do their own thing and grow in a more free-form style, but since my home is traditional and pretty formal in appearance, I want the boxwoods kept in this cute ball shape. It’s looks simple, elegant and maybe just a little whimsical.

Exterior of Frances Schultz's Bee Cottage Home after Makeover


Over the past couple of years I’ve been trying to find big boxwood shrubs. Boxwoods grow slowly and I was concerned about buying little ones and having to wait forever for them to grow in.  Each time I called all the nurseries in the area, I was told the same thing, that they rarely if ever got in large boxwood shrubs. All they ever had in stock were 5 and 7 gallon sizes.

This past weekend I drove over to one of the garden nurseries to look around and they had two huge, 24″ ball and burlap, Green Beauty boxwood shrubs. One measured 27 inches tall and the other measured around 32 inches tall. They were already round, but but by the time they are cut totally round, they would be a couple of inches shorter.

They are shipping in more from another one of their locations for me in case I do want to go with those, but I’m starting to wonder if they will be too big. I read online that Green Beauty can grow to be 4-6 feet tall if left unpruned. They won’t be left unpruned, but I’m just not sure if it will be a lot of work keeping them around the height they are now which is what I’ll need on the left side of the house.

I also saw a boxwood shrub called Baby Gem that’s supposed to stay around 3 feet in height from what I’ve read online, but they are only around 17 inches tall at the moment. I’m wondering if they will look way too small for several years. I think I’ll go buy one today and bring it home to see how it looks.

The other issue is that the Baby Gem boxwood may be too small (even when at their mature height) for the right side of the house where the ground slopes off due to the daylight basement on that end. I’m not thrilled about mixing the two varieties in front, although they do look very similar.

I’ll be making a decision this week. If you are familiar with Green Beauty boxwood shrubs, let me know your experience with keeping them pruned to size.

The Waterfall Japanese Maple visible on the left of the photo was transplanted to another location in the yard last fall and is doing great!

Porch Decorated for Autumn


Here’s how it looks today. I’m so happy it survived the transplant.

Waterfall Japanese Maple


Front Porch Update:

Another update I have in the works is for the front porch.

How To Build A Traditional Front Porch With Columns


You may remember from previous posts that this porch pictured below was the inspiration for my front porch. I found it in a Southern Homes magazine (miss that magazine!)  and my contractor did his best to duplicate it for my home. (Read about the addition of this porch and how much it cost to build here: How Much Does It Cost To Add On A Front Porch)

Front Porch Renovation and Addition


Notice the benches on the inspiration porch. I’ve always loved how those looked but wasn’t sure my porch was big enough for benches.

Front Porch, Gainesway Farm, Kentucky


Update: Just found benches that look a lot like the ones on the inspiration porch with the cute Chippendale back. They  are available here: White Bench with Chippendale Back.  Umm, they are a little smaller so they might actually work better for my porch.

Chippendale Bench

It has always bugged me how the porch just ends there on the sides. Even though the porch isn’t that high up, it feels like there needs to be something on the sides, something sort of enclosing the sides of the porch.

I’ve always though shrubs would do that once they were installed, but I’m starting to realize shrubs may not be big enough or tall enough to accomplish that comfy, enclosed feeling. So I’ve been rethinking the bench thing and wondering if they would work for my front porch, too.

Boxwood Topiaries for a Front Porch


I’ve been keeping an eye on the Luciana Bench at Grandinroad, I think they had it available last year, too. I’ve been stalking it for a while. Recently it was marked down from $399 to $299. This weekend Grandinroad had a sitewide sale: 25% off everything. That brought the cost down to $224, so I went for it. I ordered two benches, one for each side of the porch. Once they arrive, which should be this week, if I don’t absolutely love how they look on the porch or if they look too big, they will be going back.


Luciana Wood Bench for Porch


It kind of kills me to order them in black because they come in so many fun colors: red, orange, blue, yellow and lime green. They’ve even had them in purple before because I saw a review on their site where the reviewer mentioned how cute her purple bench was in her garden. If I were placing one of these in a backyard garden, I’d have to go with purple, although I don’t think that color is available this year.

Luciana Bench in Blue


I think the black benches will work better for my somewhat formal style home, especially since I have black shutters.

Porch decorated with garland and wreaths for Christmas


I think they will work well with the black lanterns on the porch, too.

Christmas Porch, Red Door Cedar Garland


The black color should also work well with the doormat, another purchase from Grandinroad last year around Christmastime.

Monogrammed Door Mat


I briefly considered ordering them in red, but I like the door being the only red on the porch. It makes it a nice focal point. Plus, if I ever want to paint the door a different color, black benches would work with any color I’d choose.

The benches will go on either side of the porch (behind the columns facing inward) just like the benches in the inspiration photo. I measured and they will fit, just hope the porch doesn’t feel too crowded. Right now it feels too open when you’re standing on the porch, so hopefully the benches will fix that.

Christmas Porch with Red Door and Cedar Garland


Here are some other garden benches that have stolen my heart while I’ve been shopping online:

Love the back design of this bench! It’s available here: Garden Bench in White

Garden Bench in White


This one is perfect for corners or places where a straight back bench won’t work. It’s available here: Curved Bench


Curved Garden Bench


This one with built-in storage would be great for a deck or patio where storage is needed for cushions.  It’s available here: Bench With Storage

Garden Patio Bench with Storage Under the Seat

While we’re talking gardening, had to share this adorable potting table I came across recently. It’s made of cedar, which is very good, perfect for outdoors. I love the style of it and thought the price was great at $199. It’s available here: Potting Table

Potting Bench


So, that’s what is cooking around here these days. I hope to have some updates for you soon.

Looking forward to all the wonderful Before and Afters for this Metamorphosis Monday!

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  1. I know you’re excited to finally get the floor done Susan! And those benches!! Adorable, the black is going to look stunning! If 2 benches feel crowded I think one would be perfect…thanks for the party and have a great Memorial Day weekend

  2. Your home is lovely! And the benches are very pretty, love the design and shape! Hope they work well for your space! Thanks for hosting Met Monday! ~Rhonda

  3. Patricia says

    Love the details on those benches. They reminds me of crowns- very regal. And I think the color choice of black will recede enough so that 2 of them will not be overwhelming. One of my Pinterest projects this summer is to convert the pretty headboard from my daughters twin size bed that I have been hoarding in my attic into a bench for my front porch. I just need to decide on an arm style. I wish I could grow box woods. They seem to burn in our Raleigh heat/sun.

    • KathleenfromCA says

      Hello, just to let you know I am from California and it can get really hot. I have boxwood planted in the shade of trees and they love it. Some varieties require part shade. I have green gem, dwarf English (so cute edging a path) and African boxwood. African is full to part sun and it has a tiny leaf and a greener shade comparing it to traditional boxwood. I have kept mine sheared to about four feet (some plants over 30 years old) and my newer plants I am trying to keep them in separate round shapes like the Bee Cottage (right now mine are about a foot high and this is their second season) and I like the look. I also use Privet in hedges to help block out dust and sun but they are like weeds and can grow into trees if you don’t stay on top of clipping them. Hope this helps. Love your bench choice too. Would think because they are open and airy the porch will not look closed in. I have benches in every part of my yard in different colors; even one with polka dots. Love your blog, Susan.

      • Thanks so much Kathleen and thanks for all that great info. That’s awesome that you’ve had some as long as 30 years! Wow, you definitely know your boxwoods!
        I just googled to read about how much light the Green Beauty needs and it says Partial to Full Sun. I think that will work pretty well since my home faces north and part of the bed will get shaded during the day while part of that area gets a lot of sun. I’m pretty sure I’m going with the large Green Beauty shrubs I found. Thankfully the company I just changed to for the care for my yard will trim them as needed. It says they are more heat, drought and humidity tolerant than other English boxwoods, so hopefully they can take our hot, humid summers here in GA. I will definitely need to keep them watered this summer since this is not the ideal time to be planting shrubs.
        That’s a good point about the benches. Wish they would hurry up and get here, I want to see them in place! lol

    • They do make you think of crowns, hadn’t thought about that. Oh, that sounds wonderful Patricia, they can make such pretty benches.

  4. Black was the right choice for your house.

  5. I love that bench, Susan, so I hope it works out for you! Thanks for hosting! Hugs…Debbie

  6. Thanks for hosting. It looks like such a cute bench.

  7. I’ve cleaned our porches of mildew and stains left from winter and notice they could stand a new coat of paint. I’m thinking that can wait until next year. Hope your weather stays cooperative so your porch work can be done.

  8. Susan Sofield says

    What an inspiration you are!! The bench will look wonderful on your front porch.

    Thanks for the weather update as we are south in a few short days. Can’t wait to visit “A Classy Flea”. Enjoy the sunshine 🙂

  9. The black benches are perfect and will look amazing! Thank you for hosting today! 😉

  10. So many new things to come; looking forward to all the posts about the updates. Especially the benches.

  11. I can totally relate to the feeling of needing to keep with the formality of the home’s structure. Black is always classic, and you can always paint them later if you really want to. It’s going to look good. Happy Monday, and I hope your workers get your job completed this week.

    • I was thinking about that. If I ever move to a cottage style home and want them to be a fun color, I guess I could paint them at that time.
      How’s the work coming at your home, Rita? Is it nearing completion?

  12. Susan, love, love, love the bench!! I have boxwood at our front door entrance too… up here, I was just thrilled to find the fairly new super hardy variety that can take the cold winters we get! (you can see our boxwood in the post today… concrete lions… ) Thanks for hosting!

  13. Hi Susan
    I think black will look best too. They will add a touch of pizzaz without being too overwhelming since they have a fairly intricate design. I did love the yellow (it wouldn’t show pollen in the spring like the black), but with yellow, red, and black I think too many colors going on so black is probably best. The yellow would look cute if you had a black door but then the door wouldn’t be a a great focal point like it is now. Also think of the Christmas possibilities…lol. I think they are going to look great and can’t wait to see your updated photo!

    • I love the yellow, too. I guess those would be cute on the front porch of a cute little cottage. Those are excellent points, Debra! Thanks for mentioning those! The black should work fine with Christmas decorations, I think. I can’t wait to play with them, maybe add an outdoor pillow or two, some gardening boots nearby. 🙂

  14. I love the benches you ordered and think they will be beautiful on your porch! So glad your weather has cleared up. Ours too, the sun is FINALLY back!! YIPPEE!!!!! Have a great day.

  15. Such a great bench. While the blue and yellow are fun and carefree, the black is timeless and elegant. And you can always add a pop of color with your plants, pillows, etc. Enjoy!

  16. Just a note about the boxwoods. I got the dwarf for the front of my house. What a pain… every year trim, trimming… they don’t stay dwarf like. I can’t imagine having to trim them in a spear shape. Last year I trimmed and for 2 days couldn’t do a thing but at 70 I guess that is to be expected. I planted some in another place in the yard around my deck and it takes about 6 years for those little shrubs to have to be trimmed.. So this is the year I’ll have more to trim. It was nice for awhile not to have to do a thing to them. If your not certain about the size, why not get a piece of cardboard and cut it the size you want and stand out in the street and look at it against the house. Might give you an idea as to how big you really want a bush in that spot.

    • I just hired a company to care for my yard and part of what they do is take care of the shrubs and trees. So thankfully, I won’t be the one doing it. I’ve always done it but ready to let someone else do it for a while. I know, there is always something to be done in the garden. I’m hoping I can spend more time enjoying and planting and less time working on the maintenance part this next year. That’s a great idea, rls!

  17. Love the black benches for the front porch of your home, Susan. I get it with the rain, we had no sun at all last week. But it’s good for the flowers!

  18. Similar minds and all that…I JUST GOT MINE (I got the swing) from Grandin Road in red…it is “da bomb!!” And, I put seven 30″ boxwoods, in large pots, along our driveway…two years and really haven’t had to shape them. Good luck hunting!! franki

    • Did you get the swing that looks like the bench, Franki? I LOVE that swing! I love that look of boxwood in large pots! Where did you find the pots? I can never find pots that look big enough.

  19. Thanks for the party Susan! I really like the benches!!! I am re- landscaping our front over the next few weeks and have been looking at box woods too but most I have found would get too big. That’s awesome that your maple tree survived being moved!

  20. Your benches will look gorgeous! We had a porch just like yours at our previous house and I used large chairs but always wanted some great looking benches. Thanks for the link party. sheila

    • Thanks, Sheila! Hope the benches will work. I’m starting to second guess the color, wondering if should have chosen white benches instead.

  21. rattlebridge farm says

    Great ideas for your yard and porch. I have a black Chippendale bench (smaller than a loveseat), and for now, I’m using it on my screened porch until I can find something more rustic.

  22. Linda Page says

    I think the black benches will look “marvelous Darling”!!! I really do. Great choice! I hope it works out and you don’t have to send them back. I hate having to ship stuff back. Keeping my fingers crossed!!

    • 🙂 Thanks, dahling! I just hope I’ll like the black. If not, I’ll have to return them and find some white ones. Stay tuned! 🙂

  23. Susan, love the look of black benches on your porch. I wish our porch had room for a bench. I need to order a copy of Bee Cottage. Think I’ll do that right now. ‘-)

  24. Your home is beautiful! The black benches will be the finishing touch!

  25. What a great accomplishment Susan… I’m so glad you had the floor finished!
    I love the curved benches, or whichever, they’re so pretty too!
    Your house is gorgeous, such classic style!
    Thanks for hosting.

    • That curved bench is really cool. I just saw a bench like that somewhere and I can’t remember where. I think it was on TV…but can’t remember what show. They had used it in a corner and it was perfect. Wish I could remember where I saw it…driving me crazy! lol

  26. Just so you know, There is a Ballard/Grandin Road outlet in West Chester Ohio. So, next time you are in the area you might check it out.


  27. Pat Stansel says

    I have that potting bench ! We got it a few years ago at Home Depot—I love it —-we put it together, mind you we’re two older people! It’s excellent quality& I love it ! It looks great & holds a lot of stuff !

  28. I’m so surprised you didn’t go for the smaller white ones you showed that looked so much like your inspiration pic……..that house has black shutters too. You didn’t go with white?

    Well the black ones your ordered are certainly fun! Hope they fit and that you love them! It’s never easy making these kinds of decisions, is it?

    Oh – and I have a ton of boxwoods are they grow sooooo fast – hope yours do too, it’s nice when they fill in and look so nicely shaped. The globe ones are awesome. You will love it.

    Still think Bee Cottage is one of the cutest curb appeals out there. CUTE~!

    • I didn’t discover the white one until today. I may have ordered the black bench anyway just because I like how it looks with the door mat. When they arrive, that will be the true test. I like the white ones too. One thing I’ve learned is some boxwoods grow faster than others. The Green Beauty that they are shipping in for me are listed as “moderate” growers so I think they grow pretty quickly, which might not be good since they are so big already. lol I know, Bee Cottage is Ahhh-dorable!

  29. Cyndi Raines says

    Gosh Susan, I couldn’t imagine what more you could do as I think your house is Gorgeous! I love your front porch and of course the screened porch is my absolute favorite, but the benches will be a nice addition. Now I’m torn between the white ones as I like how they will match the beautiful pillars, but then again the black will match the mat and the shutters! Rats! I guess we won’t know unless you get one of each and then you can see what’s best. Or white for spring and summer and black for fall and winter! lol – which ever I’m sure will be beautiful.

  30. Hi Susan,
    I always enjoy your posts & photos. I was going to comment on boxwoods. Be sure to select a cultivar good for your area. Old fashioned English boxwoods have several caveats & they can be very expensive. They grow really slow. If a dog urinates on a branch, it turns brown & dies. There are various pests & fungus that can affect the shrubs. Just do some research. I know newer cultivars have been bred & aren’t as susceptible as the old fashioned kind…There is a huge variety of hollies (not the prickly, Christmas-y kind) that give the look of the boxwood that is hardier. I know years ago when I’d considered boxwoods the county extension agent talked me out of them..Now my son who has a BS in Horticulture Science & is a landscape contractor tells me he uses other plant varieties due to all the negatives connected with boxwoods..There are just so many other plants that can give you the sheared, formal look that you want for less money & maintenance. You may want to consult with a landscape professional or a good nursery & ask about both boxwoods & varieties of ilex (holly) that might be a good substitution..In fact, “Google” ilex & look at images of the varieties…Most horticulture sites give growing habits as far as max height & width, best zone for planting& plant hardiness for cold or drought…. Just my 2 cents worth…If you are in GA then Ga Tech probably has a College of Agriculture & they often have websites that are extremely helpful..I got a lot of my info from NC State Agriculture Extension site. Even call your county extension agent & ask for help.

  31. I bought a curved bench just yesterday. A guy knocked on the door and was selling garden furniture that hadn’t sold at a weekend sale. I DON’T BUY AT THE DOOR! but something happened to me at that moment and I bought the lovely curved bench. Can’t believe I did that, but looking at the bench, I don’t regret it.

  32. KathleenfromCA says

    PS. After looking through the labels I have saved, I don’t have Green Gem! I have Winter Gem and also Japanese Boxwood (in addition to English). Plus, African Boxwood is described as dense, rounded bush with dark green “aromatic” foliage! So many varieties but all doing well in partial shade here in sunny California.

  33. Pretty! Love the benches! Before you plant the boxwoods, do some in depth reading on line. There’s a boxwood virus “on the loose” in GA and I think in other areas along the East Coast – I heard a UGA horticulturalist speak about it at length at the February Symposium at the ATL Botanical Garden/GA Perennial Plant Assoc. sponsored. You don’t want to spend money and then have to replace them; it can be spread by dogs and animals passing thru, etc. Scary!

  34. Where have you been all my life? I too live in a Brick Georgian (in Georgia no less) and the 16 years we have lived here, I have been looking for benches appropriate for my house. I grew up in NN Va near historic Yorktown and Jamestown and you just rarely see a bench on a formal porch. And yet without a bench a porch looks unfriendly and inviting. Years back I saw benches very similar to the Luciana benches (The Chatsworth Chelsea Seat by the Chatsworth Estate) that I thought would work, but they were just stupid expensive, especially for our family. I love your “inspiration photo” as well. All these years I have been waiting for someone else to put a bench on a formal porch that didn’t look out of place. As for the Luciana which is very similar to the Chelsea but I struggled with the color too- black just wouldn’t look as good on my porch and they don’t sell white. I actually thought of buying yellow and having them painted white. Plus last I tried to order I couldn’t get the coupon to take money off the benches. We are actually selling soon and moving to a much different house- a Southern Living Farmhouse (we close the end of this month) but I think I will buy the benches anyway. They can help sell this house and I will find someplace to put them where we move. They look beautiful on your porch and very appropriate to the architecture. You cracked the code.

    • Thanks so much, Kathy! You made my day with your sweet comment! Feel like I’ve met a kindred spirit! 🙂
      I was wondering why they didn’t make those benches in white, too…they definitely should have.
      I just noticed, they have a different sale going now, with the code ZZ656316, you get $50 off every $200 spent.

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